Press coverage of the Society and its activities

Shedding light with nuclear

Written by
Jim Ungrin
the North Renfrew Times
2023 May 17

While people in the “nuclear industry” are well aware of the contributions of nuclear power stations to the mix of electricity generation sources, visitors to the Nuclear Heritage Museum are often surprised to hear how large that contribution actually is. The statistics show that 53.7% of the electricity used in Ontario over the year 2022 came from CANDU power plants (50.5 to 62.5% since 2004).

At the Museum, in addition to making good use of this nuclear-generated electricity we use lighting that has a further nuclear connection. Visitors are often pleased to admire the variety of unique lamps that we have on display. The attached photograph shows examples.

One that perhaps best displays the features of a CANDU is the one on the left. It was a retirement gift given to Al Lane, a leader in the development of the 43-element “CANFLEX” fuel bundle. It features a ½ length, “dummy” CANFLEX bundle surrounded by a thick-walled pressure tube inside a larger-diameter, thin-walled calandria tube. Placed between the two tubes is a coiled “garter-spring” which, in a power reactor, prevents the high-temperature pressure tube from coming into contact with the colder calandria tube over the lifetime of the reactor, during which some sagging of the long, horizontal, pressure tube occurs.

The next lamp was made to exacting dimensions for the retirement of Art Marko, long-time head of the Biology section of Chalk River. It is a remarkable example of metal-working skills put to use to illustrate the structure of a strand of DNA.

The third lamp is a smaller version of the first with a bit of mystery attached to it. It was found at a garage sale in Campbell River B.C. by a local who traced down the Society via the internet and member Jeremy Whitlock in Vienna. Once he learned of its significance, he agreed to donate the lamp to our collection. The lamp features a 1/3 length, 19-element CANDU fuel bundle, the type used at both the NPD and the Douglas Point reactors. Apart from a date of 1971 stamped on one of the bundle end-plates, there are no further clues for whom the lamp was made nor how it ever ended up at a Campbell River garage sale. Also, being just 1/3 the length of a true bundle, are there two more versions of this lamp somewhere else in Canada, perhaps given at the retirement of a trio of retirees from AECL, Ontario Hydro or Canadian General Electric?

The final small lamp is more of an art display that a good reading source. It is one of several produced by rotating a cylinder of Perspex in a 5-7 million-volt electron beam from one of the accelerators at Chalk River or Whiteshell and then discharging the accumulated electrons to ground. The discharge produces a permanent, unique, path of damage in the plastic, which is highlighted with a small bulb in the unit base.

The Society for the Preservation of Canada’s Nuclear Heritage Inc. (SPCHNI) invites visitors at all times. It would certainly welcome any additional, unique, nuclear-related artifacts, including other lamps. Tours can be arranged by contacting members of the Board or sending a message to, and you can take the virtual museum tour on our website.